One function that people do multiple times a day in their workflow is save and retrieve files from a computer hard drive or cloud storage.

Since the need to find files is weaved into so many different work processes, if it takes just a few extra seconds to locate a file because of disorganization, that can add up to a significant amount of lost productivity per week.

Over half of surveyed office professionals say that searching for business files takes them more time than their actual work. And 38% say that they frequently struggle to find files they need during a busy day.  

If you’re looking for a business solution that’s going to make a big difference in your productivity or that of your team, then it could be as simple as organizing your digital documents.

Here are several tips to keep your files organized and easier to find, whether they’re on a computer hard drive or in a shared cloud storage platform.

1. Don’t Make a Folder for Under 10 Documents

The more folders you have, the more places you need to click into to find your files. It’s good to keep similar files grouped, but you have to balance the number of folders you have overall with the need to find things easily.

A good best practice is to not create a new folder for any fewer than 10 documents. If you have less than 10, find the best folder to put those into. Wait until you get more of the same topic before creating a separate folder.

2. Keep Your File Structure Flat (2-3 Folders Deep)

Nesting too many folders inside each other makes it harder for files to be found. Users end up having to click multiple times to go down a rabbit hole in hopes of finding the document they need at the end.

Keeping your file structure more flat, no more than 2-3 folders deep, helps things stay easier to save and retrieve.

3. Use a Consistent Naming Format

It’s critical to use a consistent naming format when naming files and folders. This allows the brain to identify the pattern and more easily find information.

For example, you don’t want some of your customer files to begin with the customer name and others to begin with the date the account was opened.

Setting consistent naming conventions for folders and documents helps you find your own files more easily. This is also important for shared file storage, especially, when users may need to locate files that other people saved.

4. Do File Upkeep Weekly

Despite the best intentions, documents can get misfiled easily in the busyness of a day. If you do file upkeep weekly, this can be a quick 20-30 minute task that keeps file storage from getting messy and unorganized.

During weekly upkeep, look for any old files that aren’t needed any longer (like former drafts of a completed sales brochure), and remove those to get them out of the way.

You should also look for any files that weren’t saved in the correct folder the first time. For example, something you may have saved to “Downloads” or your desktop, meaning to move it later.

5. Archive Older Files Quarterly

Files easily build up over time until it becomes harder and harder to find information. You can help keep file storage from getting overwhelming by regularly archiving files that you no longer are actively using.

These are files you want to retain, but they aren’t used regularly and are just getting in the way when users try to look for more current documents.

6. Keep Draft Copies Separate from Final Copies

When doing file upkeep, it’s helpful if you keep draft copies of documents in a different folder than the final document. Putting draft copies in their own folder reduces the risk of file loss, for example, if the final copy gets deleted instead of the draft.

It also makes it faster to locate and remove old draft copies when they are no longer needed.

7. File As You Go, Don’t Wait Until “Later”

The biggest reason that files on hard drives and cloud file storage get out of hand is that users don’t file things where they should be. They save to a general area, maybe the last place they saved another document, meaning to move it later.

Taking that few additional seconds to file right the first time can keep you from having to search for 5-10 minutes later to find that misfiled document.

8. Make Search Easier with Tags & Metadata

Use search-friendly tags and metadata (descriptions, etc.) on your files to make them easier to search.

Search-optimized files can save you a ton of time and keep you from having to click through multiple folders to locate an older document.

Get Smart & Secure Cloud Storage Solutions from ECN IT

Are you losing productivity due to poor file storage? ECN IT Solutions can help your Tucson area business put best practices in place for your cloud documents.

We’re here and ready to talk cloud optimization with you! Reach out at 520-335-7553 or through our website.